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We know the presence of a firearm in the home ups a woman’s chance of being murdered by a staggering 500 percent. So, wouldn’t it stand to reason that firearms at work also increase the chances of murder?
“Absolutely,” says Linda A. Seabrook, general counsel for Futures Without Violence. “Having guns anywhere increases risk of homicide.”
Statistics support her position, at least as it relates to the workplace. In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 417 workplace deaths were homicides. Shootings accounted for 354 of the deaths and in 48 of the instances, the perpetrator was a relative or domestic partner. Notably, forty-three percent of female victims murdered at work were killed by a relative or domestic partner. Coincidentally, only two percent of males killed at the workplace were murdered by a partner or relative.
“Domestic violence often spills over into the workplace because we spend so much time at work,” Seabrook says. “Abusers would know exactly where to find their victims. He knows where she works and when she’ll be there.”
A Better, Less Deadly Option
Rather than employers allowing staff to bring guns to work for protection, which could result in deadly encounters, Seabrook recommends putting policies in place for dealing with domestic violence in the workplace and then discussing available resources with all employees on a regular basis.
“Have policies in place that support victims,” Seabrook says. “Offer referrals to advocates to help with safety planning, hire security if necessary and provide accommodations such as changing the victim’s schedule, worksite, phone number or email address if she requests it.”
Employers in some states, including California, Nevada and North Carolina, can even file for protective orders against abusers without the survivor having to petition the court. (Of course, employers are strongly encouraged and in some cases required to gain consent from the employee before filing for such an order.)
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“In some states, the company itself can get a protective order that prohibits the abuser from going to the place of business, regardless of whether or not the victim is there,” Seabrook says.
Most importantly, Seabrook suggests keeping the lines of communication open between employers and employees.
“A lot of times the workplace can actually be a place of safety for victims, because they’re not at home where the bulk of the violence is occurring,” she says. “It can give victims a place of respite, which also makes it a really important intervention point.”
Worried one of your coworkers might be experiencing abuse at home? Read “Warning Signs at Work” to learn how to tell and what to do.
Looking for someone to speak with? Enter your location to find phone numbers for domestic violence experts in your area.
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